The Revolutionary War Council, known by abbreviation as Revvoensovet, was created in September 1918 to lead and direct the Soviet war machine.  Its first chair was Leon Trotsky, now in effect the supreme military commander, but already the personal conflict with Stalin that would lead to his eventual death was underway.

Tsaritsyn in the south of European Russia was the focus of significant military engagement from July 1918 until the Soviets’ eventual victory over a year later.  The fight for Tsaritsyn became known for the Reds’ internal conflicts as much as for their battles with the Whites.  The basic confrontation related to the use of former Imperial Army officers in the Red Army.  Trotsky firmly believed that a failure to use the experience of officers willing to fight for the Bolsheviks would be fatal; Stalin felt the reverse, and he used his presence in Tsaritsyn to block and remove such military staff.  In Stalin-era historiography, as exemplified in this book, the heroic leader of military strategy at Tsaritsyn was Stalin; Trotsky is sidelined.

The author of this book, Vladimir Melikov, is described on the title page as komdiv (divisional commander) and professor at the Academy of the General Staff of the Red Army.  Melikov’s credentials and his positive portrait of Stalin here were not, however, enough to save him from the purges; he died in 1946.

Geroicheskaia oborona Tsaritsyna (1918 g.) / V.A. Melikov (1938)  586:9.d.90.52

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